Am I Abiding?
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser."– John 15:1
In John 15, we have Christ's command to His followers to abide in Him:
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5).
What does it really mean to "abide" in Christ? What does it look like?
UNION WITH HIM
Our union with Him is the foundation of our relationship. The fall was heinous for many reasons, but one of those being that it destroyed and alienated us from the blessing of enjoying fellowship with our Creator. The Lord was going to make that fellowship possible again through Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. In John 15, we find Christ reassuring His disciples that His departure would not be defeat. On the contrary, it was going to enhance the union and allow the provision of the Holy Spirit to indwell believers. It would almost be a return to the garden if you will, and it's interesting to note that to depict this kind of relationship we would get to enjoy, Christ uses garden-esque metaphors to explain.
He begins will a bold and comforting truth: "I am the vine and my Father is the vinedresser" (John 15:1). In other words, He is the one who does all the tough work. And what are we to do? He continues, "Abide in Me, and I in you..." (John 15:4a). The Greek word for "abide," means, to stay or remain (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy) and has also been translated: continue, dwell, endure, be present, and remain. The picture Christ paints with this metaphor is absolutely breathtaking. We are to remain in Christ, our vine, as the Father dresses us as He deems fit for His Glory and our good. The Father is the good farmer, perfectly cultivating His vineyard with the utmost of care and we, the branches, share in the life of the vine because we are connected to it. Think about the branches for a moment, they are utterly dependent upon the vine's health and the vinedresser's ability to care and cultivate them. Thus, to abide in Christ is to be vitally connected to Him through continuous dependance upon His Word, His love and prayer. It's also through obeying His commandments:
"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love" (John 15:10).
We abide in Christ when we are obedient to His commandments; which is to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). And this, Christ tells us, is ultimately all for our joy:
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full" (John 15:11).
ABIDING OR NOT?
So then, how can we tell if we are abiding or not? This passage leaves us with some unmistakable evidences of what it looks like for a believer to "abide in Christ:"
- when you are abiding in Christ, you will produce fruit (John 15:2)
- you will experience the Father's "pruning" so that you will bear more fruit (John 15:2)
- the believer who is abiding in Christ has their prayers answered (John 15:7)
- you will experience a deepening love for Christ and for other believers (John 15:9, 12-13)
- you will also experience joy (John 15:11)*
When we abide in Christ, we decide to rest in Him. As J.C. Ryle puts it:
Abide in Me says Jesus. Cling to Me. Stick fast to Me. Live the life of close and intimate communion with Me. Get nearer to Me. Roll every burden on Me. Cast your whole weight on Me. Never let go your hold on Me for a moment. Be, as it were, rooted and planted in Me. Do this and I will never fail you. I will ever abide in you.
*From Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary
Spend some time reading John 15. Remember, He who began a good work in You, will complete it (Philippians 1:6).